Sister Carmella Buckley, 99, died at Villa Saint Vincent on Wednesday, January 30.
Florence Mary Buckley was born in Pine City, MN, the second of nine children in the family of William and Mary Agnes (McPhillips) Buckley. She began grade school at age five in the Pine City Public School. In 1919, the family moved to Bagley, MN where she attended the Bagley Public School. Her second year of high school, she attended Saint Joseph Academy in Crookston, her third year back in Bagley, and her fourth year at Mount Saint Benedict Academy in Crookston.
Florence joined the Sisters of Saint Benedict as a postulant in 1930.When she became a novice in 1931, she received the name Sister Carmella. Sister Carmella made her perpetual commitment in 1935. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Music from Alverno College, Milwaukee, and a Master’s Degree in Music Education from the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks. She served as music teacher, organist and choir director in the parochial schools in Moorhead, Detroit Lakes, East Grand Forks, the Cathedral and Mount Saint. Benedict High School in Crookston. At Sacred Heart High School in East Grand Forks and at the Cathedral and Mount Saint Benedict High Schools in Crookston, she directed school orchestras, student choral groups and numerous musical productions. Over the course of almost fifty years, she served on the staff of Mount Saint Benedict Conservatory of Music, Crookston.
For Sister Carmella, music was more than a professional career; it was the joy of her life, a gift “bred in her bones.” Her mother, first a country school teacher, followed by teaching in high school, taught all her children to play the piano, although she did not play it herself. Her father, a highway engineer, loved to play the violin, and Florence often “got out of washing dishes” so that she could accompany him on the piano. Commenting on her passion for music, Sister Carmella wrote, “I love teaching music, and because this is what I have done for years, it has added to my happiness. Music has many `healing’ qualities for my students and also for me. I miss directing liturgical music, which was my greatest love, but I’ve done a lot of that, and one can’t go on forever. But the music can live on in our hearts.”
Sister Carmella was preceded in death by her parents, her brothers George, William, Eugene and James, and her sisters Patricia and Margaret. She is survived by her sister, Sister Brigetta Buckley of Mount Saint Benedict Monastery, the Sisters of Saint Benedict of Crookston, and sisters-in-law Marlene (Eugene) of Orangevale, CA and Peggy (James) of Fergus Falls, MN and several nieces and nephews.
Reception of the body of Sister Carmella will be at 4:30, p.m. Sunday, February 3 with visitation from 5:00 until the wake service at 7:00 p.m. The Mass of Christian Burial will be at 11:00 a.m. on Monday, February 4. All services will be at Sacred Heart Chapel, Mount Saint Benedict Monastery, 620 Summit Ave., Crookston, MN.
Memorials in honor of Sister Carmella Buckley may be given to Mount Saint Benedict Foundation, 620 Summit Avenue, Crookston, MN.56716